With everything you’ve learned so far you should now have what it takes to be a successful blogger, insofar as you know how to create a blog and then grow it to the point where it’s getting tons of traffic. But while this is highly rewarding, it’s not going to give you the freedom that you’re looking for. This will not be enough to enable you to quit your day job and to start lying in in the mornings/spending more time with your family/travelling.
To do that you’re going to also need to monetize your blog – in other words ensure that it’s bringing in cash.
So how do you do that? The answer might surprise you…
Many people believe that the best way to make money from a website is by putting ads on it – specifically like Google AdSense that will pay out every time they get clicked (this is ‘PPC’ advertising meaning ‘pay per click’).
Simply sign up for an account at https://www.google.com/adsense, create your campaigns, paste the adverts you create onto your site to embed them in your content and then ensure that lots of people are going to your site.
Problem is though, you’re only going to earn a few cents per click from those ads. If you’re getting hundreds of thousands of views per day, then this can be a good way to earn a fair amount of passive income – but even then there are smarter and more effective ways you could be earning more.
The thing to keep in mind here is that those advertisers are willing to pay you that much for your traffic. What this tells you, is that the customers are worth more to them than the small amount they’re paying you. That means they must have found a better way to monetize their site – likely by selling a product or perhaps an affiliate product that they’ll gain commission for.
Either way, this now means that you’re selling something for less than it’s worth. How do you get to the top of the pile?
The very best way to make money from a blog is to sell something. You can do this by purchasing inventory in bulk and then selling it on for more than you paid for it but this is a rather involved and complicated process with a number of challenges.
What’s much easier then and what’s particularly well suited to blogging, is to sell an informational product. That means an e-book, a book, a digital course or something else.
(Above: an information product created by DigitalMarketer.com)
As a digital product, these options will have zero overheads for you and no delivery costs. What’s more, you’ll be able to demonstrate value and build trust in your product through your content marketing very effectively. Throw in some adverts for your product and some promotion within the body of your content and you can make a lot of money this way.
Note that if you aren’t confident enough or don’t have the time to write an entire e-book, you can always outsource the process using the likes of UpWork (www.upwork.com), Freelancer (www.freelancer.com) and Elance (www.elance.com).
Or if you’d rather not invest the time or money in creating products, another choice is to skip that part and instead sell someone else’s product. You can do this by becoming an affiliate marketer, meaning that you’re now selling a product for commission. If that sounds like a step-down from selling your own product, bear in mind it gives you a much wider selection of things to sell and that it means you can choose products that are already highly successful.
If you find an affiliate product through a site like ClickBank (www.clickbank.com) or JVZoo (www.jvzoo.com), you’ll be given an affiliate link to promote and every time someone clicks on that link and buys the product you’ll get around 40-60%. A great strategy then is to include product reviews as blog posts, or to have a list of ‘key resources’ for your readers that promote these items.
Another option is to choose Amazon’s affiliate scheme. This pays out a much smaller percentage but on the other hand, it gives you access to a gigantic selection and it lets you sell through a retailer that people already use and trust.
Look for widgets and plugins that will let you add your adverts in the sidebars and under the headers of your site. These key spots bring in more clicks and more money without being distracting or disruptive for your visitors.
You can use a plugin like “Amazon Product in a Post Plugin” to add formatted Amazon products to any page or posts. It’s free: https://wordpress.org/plugins/amazon-product-in-a-post-plugin/
Building an E-Mail List
Think of your website as a sieve. Most of the people who visit it will read it, enjoy it but then fall through the tiny holes never to be seen again. At this point they are lost.
This is why e-mail marketing is so important. With e-mail marketing, the objective is to get visitors to sign up for a mailing list so that you can update them with news about your new posts, new products and more. This lets you turn a one-off visitor into a loyal fan and someone you can reach regularly. Don’t rely on RSS feeds for this kind of loyalty – it’s only a small selection of people who use these and barely anyone will subscribe to an RSS feed on Feedly on their very first visit.
To create a successful mailing list, you will need to use an autoresponder along the lines of Aweber (www.aweber.com) or GetResponse (www.getresponse.com). These will manage your contacts, allow you to send large bulk e-mails and also automate the process of signing up or unsubscribing.
Once you’ve chosen a platform and signed up, you’ll then be given the opportunity to create an ‘opt-in form’. This is where your visitors will enter their details if they want to sign in and it’s what you should work to promote if you want to get the maximum visitors possible.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to insert opt-in forms into your sidebar and into the bottom of your posts. This won’t be enough to encourage first time viewers though: if you want to go the extra mile to secure subscribers (which you really should) then you should incentivize your mailing list with an e-book, a free report or some other kind of freebie.
Likewise, you can put your opt-in form into a lightbox that appears over the rest of your content. SumoMe (www.sumome.com) is one example of a useful ‘pop-up’ lightbox you can use to convert your one-time visitors into subscribers and long-time customers.
Now make sure you keep your mailing list active by notifying your members of new updates to the blog and by mentioning your offers and promotions.
Note that pretty much every major blogger describes their mailing list as one of the absolutely crucial aspects of their business model. Don’t ignore this!
Socializing Your Blog
Post regularly enough and your blog will begin to generate ‘long tail’ keywords and will get traffic from Google. You can help this as well by exchanging guest posts and submitting your links to directories and forums to create a big ‘in-bound links profile’.
In this day and age though and especially for bloggers looking to build a personal brand, social media is going to be your very best tool for promoting your site. This will allow you to directly reach your target demographic, to engage with your audience and to grow your list of fans and followers.
So how do you go about effectively ‘socializing’ that blog?
The first rule of social media is ‘be everywhere’. This means you should have an account on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram (which is actually bigger than Twitter!), on Google+, on LinkedIn… you name it! And across all these accounts you should have a consistent logo, a consistent brand name and a consistent mission statement and niche. This will help to give people more ways to discover you and it will present more ways to share your content.
Now when you post your blog posts, you should also share them to all these channels. As you gain more visitors, more people will gravitate towards your social media. And as they grow in number, the content you share there will automatically start to perform better.
At the same time, you should also think of sharing your links to social sharing sites – like Reddit (www.reddit.com) and StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com). Also good are Facebook groups and Google+ communities. This way you can find specific audiences for your content who will be likely to enjoy your content and to share it and promote it.
In fact, every time you write a new post for your blog you should have a good idea of all the ways you can share it socially. Where will this be the biggest hit? Who precisely are you aiming this post at? Think of your route to market right from the start and you’ll all but guarantee succeed.
Of course you should also add social sharing buttons right into your content. You can do this with a plugin like Shareaholic (www.shareaholic.com). This lets your visitors share your content with their contacts if they should enjoy it.
Another smart tip is to try turning your own blog into a community itself. You can do this with an active comments section (use the plugin in Disqus which has a lot of advanced features and useful advantages) and by just making sure that you always respond to comments and generally encourage conversation. Try to end your posts with an invitation for people to discuss more – or even end them with a question.
And do take the time wherever possible to answer e-mails, messages on LinkedIn etc. Don’t underestimate the value of a single highly loyal fan!
Important Pages to Have on Your Blog
As well as posting content as blog posts, a WordPress site also lets you add pages. These will be static points of interest on your site that people will be able to view regularly whenever they’re interested in them.
This chapter will serve as a useful reference for adding pages to your blog…
An About Page is a page where you tell people about your blog. This is an excellent opportunity to explain your mission statement and to help new visitors make sense of everything they see on the home page. If you have lots of content, this can help you to tie a little bow around it all and to get people excited for your future output. You can also use this to weed out your ‘non audience’. In other words, to really hone in on your specific target demographic.
For gaining fans and for building new contacts and networking opportunities, a contact page is an absolute must. Leave this out and you might miss out on some serious opportunities!
A good way to let people get in contact without opening yourself up for abuse is to use ‘Contact Form 7’ (https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/).
This is a plugin that adds a form to your contact page and helps protect you from spam.
This is another great way to monetize your site! Why not turn some of that expertise into a service you can charge top dollar for?
This is where you will promote your own products or your affiliate products. Some bloggers will call this page something like their ‘essential gear’ or their ‘survival kit’ and for real fans it’s a great place for people to gain some of your magic for themselves.
This is similar to the above but will work more purely for affiliate links. What products can you unreservedly recommend?
Here is a screenshot of a blog using a ‘Resources’ page:
The only downside with the blog format for websites is that it can be hard to find older, legacy posts and content. A good way around this is to have a handy ‘Start Here’ page that can act as a ‘jumping on point’ for your new visitors and show off the highlights of your site.